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Employee Communication in the Age of Digital Transformation

Posted by Spitfire Communications on May 23, 2019 10:42:50 AM
Employee Communication in the Age of Digital Transformation

For some, “digital transformation” is a buzzword that’s synonymous with “disruption.” It’s the onslaught of perplexing technological processes designed to disturb their workflow and alter their contribution to the organization.

For others, digital transformation is an opportunity. It harnesses the power of technology to achieve greater efficiencies in operations, enhanced experiences for employees and customers, and the ability to access to more innovative markets and constituents.

For your employees, digital transformation is likely some combination of these two sentiments. And the conflicting mindsets can make it difficult to carry out a strategic vision and craft the kind of messaging that resonates across the organization.


Ten Ways to Successfully Roll Out a Digital Transformation

How to comprehensively roll out a digital transformation to minimize confusion, resistance and inefficiencies in your organization:

1. Mitigate Resistance

The precise reason why change must be managed is because of the aversion to its very existence. It takes time to institute change while also minimizing feelings of resistance. To help your employees embrace digital transformation, it’s crucial to communicate your organization’s full intentions, share your plans to address skills gaps and remind them of the many ways this change will catalyze positive and productive new benefits for all.  

2. Be Consistent Be Clear

As important as it is to formulate your vision and execute the subsequent strategy, clear communication of the plan is just as vital as its inception. Use this as an opportunity to have a little fun! Tie your change initiatives to a distinct brand for easy recognition, a spirited approach and consistency across all communication channels. Use new tools and technologies to assist in the rollout, showing you’ve bought into its success from the get go.

3. Eliminate Outdated Communication Methods

While they once served an important purpose to connect and engage your employees pre-digital transformation, it’s time to shut down outdated communication channels and fold up the company newsletter. A barely-used portal or intranet can be transitioned into a digital workplace by incorporating social collaboration tools, a cohesive hub of information and a personalized, user-focused interface. Old handbooks and binders can be filed in the internal hub for easy access across the organization. Offer your employees a variety of methods to choose from, but begin to phase out those you no longer intend to upkeep. Printed materials can and should still have a place.

4. Accentuate the Pros

Take every opportunity you can to highlight the advantages of your digital transformation rollout. It isn’t disruptive, it’s awesome! Feature fun facts and employee testimonials in your new digital workplace, show visual representation of positive outcomes and newfound efficiencies and keep an open dialogue about the many ways your new systems are taking off. Highlight it in important meetings, reinforce it with your new branding and chat about it face to face.

5. Avoid “Replacement” Messaging

Your digital transformation rollout isn’t a matter of “this replaces that.” In keeping with transparency, you want to be honest with your employees about the phaseout of outdated processes. Still, resist the urge to communicate the need for a replacement or substitute. This language can seem dismissive, particularly to employees who have made it their job to master a skill or process that is being revamped. Position positively and continue to reinforce the many benefits of the new implementation.

For example, when communicating the elimination of an outdated filing system, refrain from harping on any former inefficiencies, instead highlight how the new digital process will save time and resources and enhance the overall experience of the employees who use it. Keep the focus on forward momentum and shift away from negative or discouraging language.

6. Employ the Powers of Learning and Development

As your company unveils its new data management system, automated processes and other digital tools, a streamlined training program will be pivotal. Regardless of initial aptitude levels, training ensures each employee acquires crucial knowledge and eventual expertise in the areas that help them execute their job and an understanding of how they fit into the bigger picture. When employees are learning, they’re engaging, and this forges a positive relationship with digital transformation and further mitigates resistance.

7. Don’t Forget About Your Virtual Workforce

Ensure the employee experience reverberates into the virtual world. Your remote employees stand to benefit the most from digital transformation, as it allows them to more seamlessly integrate into the organization from afar. Many are already well-versed in virtual communication tools such as videoconferencing and remote meeting management, but remember to bring them into the communication just as thoughtfully as your in-person employees. Use new resources to patch them into key meetings, engage them with social collaboration tools and highlight major milestones.

8. Foster a Culture of Value

Once the learning outcomes are instituted and the digital transformation begins to unfold, your organization has an incredible opportunity to cultivate a culture of value. Employees will begin to recognize the true importance of digital maturity, how their role is enhanced by it, and who to ask if they still feel shaky about execution. Let your employees know it’s okay to make mistakes (that’s where the best learning occurs) and that it might take some time to get fully up-to-speed. Continuously foster the culture of value by emphasizing the message that their knowledge and experience are just as paramount to the organization’s success as the many benefits of digital transformation. Reinforce the symbiotic relationship between the two.

9. Promise (and Deliver) Transparency at All Levels

Your organization requires full transparency in the communication process to enable seamless digital transformation. From c-suite executives to managers and individual contributors, employees should be encouraged to ask the tough questions and know when it’s their turn to answer. Transparency is the glue that holds the culture of value together. Employees need to see the walk being walked and feel safe in wanting to know more. Executives should be prepared to deliver those messages and provide managers with the tools to be confident in relaying to all employees.

10. Tie it All into Performance Management

When it’s time to track employee performance, the execution of new digital processes should be infused with key performance metrics. This enforces ownership of the newfound processes while assessing key gaps in the learning and rollout process. For example, if an employee is stuck on producing a particular deliverable, their manager can assess whether it was due to an overall lack of productivity or a competency glitch in the new system. Exceptional execution can be rewarded and lack of understanding can be quickly detected and repaired.


There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to digital transformation. Each employer will approach it differently depending on their unique organizational dynamics. By addressing the ten guidelines above, your company can be a part of the initial wave of innovators who’ve cracked the code to successful implementation. It starts with your vision, breathes itself to life in your messaging and becomes a beneficial new reality through your employees.


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